Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Veganism hits the elite!!

Heavy hitting politicians, movie types, and rock stars are finally getting on board with the wonderful world of veganism.  With Bill Clinton's recent CNN appearance and now a hard hitting article in Bloomberg Business Weekly, veganism is well on the way to mainstream acceptance.

The real question is what this translates into in terms of policy change.  Hopefully this will create political awareness around unethical, earth rapers such as Monsanto.  Below is a list of some of the fines Monsanto has had to pay in the past which are nothing compared to the price we are all going to pay in the future for their unscrupulous activities.
  • As recently as 2005, the Justice Department ordered Monsanto to pay a $1.5 million fine for bribing Indonesian officials in order to get its Bollgard cotton seeds approved without having to prove their environmental safety.
  • Monsanto's biggest individual fine to date was a $100 million settlement to the family of Wilbur Jack Skeen in 1986. The company was found to be negligent in exposing Mr. Skeen, a worker in the companies Texas plant, to benzene. The exposure eventually led to his death from leukemia.
  • Monsanto was one of the companies named in a $180 million suit for Vietnam War vets exposed to “Agent Orange”. Monsanto manufactured the herbicide from 1965 to 1969.
    The settlement did not include the 400,000 disabilities and deaths that the population of Vietnam suffered from the toxic herbicide.
  • In 1995, Monsanto was forced to pay a Texas Waste Management company $41.1 million for hazardous waste concerns.
  • In 1996, New York's Attorney General hit the company with a $50,000 fine for false advertising of its flagship pesticide Roundup. Claims in question included “Remember that environmentally friendly Roundup herbicide is biodegradable. It won't build up in the soil so you can use Roundup with confidence along customers' driveways, sidewalks and fences... ”
Additionally, will change come to our school lunch programs?  With the "high profilers" now recognizing the importance of a vegan and whole foods diet I hope that this translates into real change for our children.  These are stats from 2000 but still relevant:
  • 18.2% = The percentage of schools where nutrition specific staff worked with physical education staff on nutrition activities.
  • 2.1% of elementary schools, 6.7% of middle schools, and 24.0% of high schools  = Schools who sell deep-fried foods at lunch.
  • 22.8 minutes = The average time all kids in this country are given to eat lunch.
  • 32.7% of elementary schools, 71.3% of middle schools, and 89.4% of high schools = Schools who offer vending machines or a school store, canteen, or snack bar where students can purchase foods or beverages.
  • 30% = Schools who rarely, if ever offer a vegetable that’s NOT a potato.
  • 26.1% = Amount of school districts that prohibit using food as a reward.
  • 38.9% = School districts and states that DO prohibit junk food sold during breakfast and lunch.
  • 5.5% = States and districts that prohibit offering junk food at concession stands.
  • 18.9% = States and districts that prohibit offering junk food at school stores, canteens, or snack bars.
  • 11.8% states 57.1% districts = Amount of schools that are required to provide elementary schools students with regularly scheduled recess.
  • 6.6% = Amount of school districts requiring that schools make fruits or vegetables available to students whenever food was offered or sold.
  • 18.4% of states + 17.0% of districts = States and districts that require schools to offer healthful beverages such as bottled water or low-fat milk, whenever beverages were offered or sold.
  • 38.8% = Number of districts that require that schools implement food safety practices school wide.
  • 75.8% = Amount of districts that allow advertising for candy, fast food restaurants, or soft drinks on school property.
  • 11.7% of elementary schools, 19.0% of middle schools, and 23.5% of high schools = Amount of schools who offer fast foods from companies such as Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, or Subway. This frankly could be worse, but fast food doesn’t belong in schools at all IMO.
  • 76.8% = Amount of high schools with access to soda pop or sugar-based fruit drinks in vending machines or elsewhere in the school.
So why all the hype lately?  The Bloomberg article offers these reasons, "It affords them the opportunity to control their own health with the same manic id with which they control everything else. Wynn says his new diet has allowed him to get off Lipitor. Clinton's diet made him a fashion darling at his daughter's wedding this summer. "It's probably a good thing in a CEO," says Freston about veganism. "At least they won't be toppling over like those McDonald's CEOs."   Whatever the reasons, only good can come of this!